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NASA to understand Earth’s climate by studying tiny sea creatures

For the study, the team is combining global data from NASA satellites with the ship, aircraft, and autonomous assets

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In a first, a team of scientists from NASA are on a research mission to study phytoplankton — the tiny sea creatures — and their impact on the atmosphere and climate on Earth.

The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES), which is in its fourth and final deployment stage, is set to study to four distinct phases of the world’s largest phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
This study will help in understanding climate. Wikimedia Commons

Previous three deployments have confirmed a distinct shift in the annual cycle of the phytoplankton bloom as well as a lack of larger-sized plankton during the peak of the bloom.

“Most scientists studying the bloom head to sea during its climax in late spring and early summer. We did that, but we also went out during the other seasons to fully capture the minimum and transitions of the bloom,” Rich Moore, Deputy Project Scientist at NAAMES, said in a statement. “This thoroughness pays off as our ship-based scientists use these data to fully describe the entirety of the plankton bust/boom cycle.

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“No one has done this before, and we’re excited about the science findings that are beginning to trickle out now,” Moore said. The study is set to research the “ascending transition” of the bloom, which occurs after the phytoplankton minimum in February.

In the March-April phase, the plankton are growing steadily, with their abundance in the water continuing to increase or accumulate toward the maximum of the bloom between May and July.

The NAAMES campaign also provides a unique opportunity for researchers aboard Atlantis to do experiments that study growth and decay of the phytoplankton population.

“For scientists watching the rates of growth, this is the exciting time, because the accumulation rate is expected to be going through the roof and stay high for the next few months,” Moore said.

NASA has been trying to understand Climate change for a long time. VOA

Rates of phytoplankton accumulation are critical for understanding the ocean conditions that lead to phytoplankton growth and its timing, a key to unlocking the environmental drivers and controls of biological dynamics, the report said.

For the study, the team is combining global data from NASA satellites with the ship, aircraft, and autonomous assets such as floats, along with laboratory research and balloon data. Scientists are also conducting meteorological balloon launches from the ship to understand the link between the ocean, atmospheric particles and clouds. IANS

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Parker Solar Probe of NASA Sends Back its First Images

The Parker Solar Probe's first close approach to the Sun will be in November

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NASA's Parker Solar Probe sends back first images. Flickr

Just over a month into its seven-year mission to touch the Sun, NASA Parker Solar Probe has beamed back the first-light data from each of its four instrument suites, the US space agency said.

On September 9, Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe’s (WISPR) — the only imager on the probe — door was opened, allowing the instrument to take the first images during its journey to the Sun.

WISPR with both its inner and outer telescope snapped a blue-toned, two-panel image of space with stars visible throughout.

While the Sun is not visible in the image, it showed Jupiter.

Launched on August 12, Parker Solar Probe, NASA historic small car-sized probe will journey steadily closer to the Sun, until it makes its closest approach at 3.8 million miles.

“All instruments returned data that not only serves for calibration, but also captures glimpses of what we expect them to measure near the Sun to solve the mysteries of the solar atmosphere, the corona,” said Nour Raouafi, the probe’s project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland.

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This is NASA’s Latest achievement. Pixabay

While these early data are not yet examples of the key science observations that the probe is expected to transmit in December, it shows that each of its four instrument suites are working well.

The probe also sent data back from its three other instruments on board: ISoIS, FIELDS and SWEAP which are all dedicated to unravelling the mysteries of the Sun.

ISoIS’s (pronounced “ee-sis” and includes the symbol for the Sun in its acronym) two Energetic Particle Instruments — EPI-Lo and EPI-Hi — cover a range of energies for these activity-driven particles.

EPI-Lo’s initial data shows background cosmic rays, particles that were energised and came rocketing into our solar system from elsewhere in the galaxy.

Data from EPI-Hi shows detections of both hydrogen and helium particles from its lower-energy telescopes.

The FIELDS’ four electric field antennas on the front of the probe observed the signatures of a solar flare, while the SWEAP’s (Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons), three instruments caught glimpses of the solar wind.

NASA
Launched on August 12, Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s historic small car-sized probe will journey steadily closer to the Sun, until it makes its closest approach at 3.8 million miles. Pixabay

The Parker Solar Probe’s first close approach to the Sun will be in November.

Over the next two months, it will fly towards Venus, performing its first Venus gravity assist in early October.

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Throughout its mission, the probe will make six more Venus flybys and 24 total passes by the Sun.

The probe is named after Eugene Parker, a solar physicist, who in 1958 first predicted the existence of the solar wind, a stream of charged particles and magnetic fields that flow continuously from the Sun. (IANS)